RTFM Education – Virtualization, VMware, Citrix

Apr 9 2009   2:32AM GMT

Why I Love EMC :-)

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

I love EMC. I really really do. Here’s why. When I was in VMworld: Las Vegas last year I was on the cusp of releasing my book on Site Recovery Manager. I met up with a lot of the SRM Team there, and they helped me introduce me to many of the storage folks responsible for developing the SRAs (Site Recovery Adapters – there the glue that allows SRM to speak to the storage). I already knew some of those guys. Like Adam Carter of Lefthand Networks, and I also met Vaughn Stewart of NetApp. Anyway, the SRM Team introduce me to this fella I’d never heard of before (shows how much I know!) by the name of Chad Sakac. Chad Sakac and Alex Tanner are now my best buddies, because what came out of that is access to some top notch storage equipment. You might know Chad through his blog, and I have it on my RSS Feeds – which keeps me up to date with what EMC are doing in partnership with VMware.


You know how these things are sometimes, lots of promises are made over a few beers at conferrences – where something is promised – and then well, nothing happens (hey, guys you know who you are!). You feel a bit of a heel coming back to them week after week hoping they will come good. Not so with EMC – they came to me, and they made it happen. You see being a freelance instructor/blogger/author hardware resources are so hard to come by, plus you know if you sink your own cash into a lab environment – it’s like buying a brand new car. As soon as you drive it off the parking lot, its devalued… 

So that’s the preamble. Wot did I get? Well, Chad & Alex have kindly “given” me on a “long term loan”. Two EMC Celerras and Clarrion system. Yes, two. With the MirrorView links & licenses such that I can replicate between them.  This is what they look like

I’ve got two of these bad-guys to the right in my rack at the colocation. I would like to thank Alex Tanner (you might know Alex, he’s quite active on the SRM forums – his handle is bladeraptor) very much indeed for his help in getting the kit in, racked up and working. I’m afraid he wasn’t very ably assisted by me – asking him a load of really dumb/ignorant questions. I’ve learnt so much from the process (like the fact that my coloction sucks, they are amateurs and I really should have done site visit before going there a last year!) and from Alex about they way zoning should be done. I’m hoping to pick Alex’s brains a bit more in the coming weeks – but I’m just cautious about taking the micky – there’s generousity – and then there’s taking advantage after all!

So what am I gonna do with this storage. Well, firstly I need to get all my files of my old piece of Jurassic Park era Sun SAN, which I bought of VMware employee a few years ago. There’s no RAID, so I have to use extents – and of course, I run the daily risk of a disk failure. In fairness the old girl has served me well – I wrote the first vi3book from her – but she just wasn’t up to the job for the SRM book. I had to resort to using virtual appliances – which shows how much you can achieve with modest hardware resources. I won’t get rid of the old girl – she will do well as backup location.

Next I’m gonna carve up the SAN – and use it immediately to totally overhaul the Chapter 5: Storage on my new book about vSphere4. It’s in pretty good shape as it is…. but I thought before releasing the book I would have to use some contacts to do work on the multipathing side of things – but now I don’t have to go with out with my begging bowl because EMC came to the rescue.

The other good thing is now my environment is that much more closer to a production environment – what I write about is gonna be that much real than it was before. I’ll also be able to look at the plug-ins that have been coming out from EMC that fit into either vi3 or vSphere4

The big project after that is my return to SRM work full-time. Since October, 2008 I’ve been working on my vSphere4 book (that’s nearly 700 pages and 21 chapters of juicy material). In fact I went right of the back of completing and publishing the SRM book, into writing a vSphere4 book. What can I say?  I must be either over-ethusaistic or a glutten for punishment. Anyway, I always wanted the SRM book to be more vendor neutral – in the end it got dominated by Lefthand Networks VSA. My plan is to revist some of the material – and document how to get SRM working with Celerra and Clarrion. Not sure when that will be – because my kit is more or less dedicated to vSphere at the moment. Anyway, I’m quickly getting to the end of writing the vSphere book – but of course, I will have work to do on it post-GA. So perhaps the SRM piece is gonna be pushed back to Q3/Q4. Maybe by then we will have a new version of SRM that’s compatiable with vSphere4. That would really encourage me to re-visit SRM big time! My other option is a book on VMware View3 – and looking out how EMC’s new VDI deployment plug-in fits into the equation.

Lastly, getting this kit has really inspired me. I was discussing with my partner (Carmel) my plan to do some formal training around the Clarrion & Celerra. I’ve always been a bit embarassed that my storage knowledge isn’t as good as I think it should be. Of course, there was little point in doing much about this – if I don’t have access to the kit. Now there’s no excuse!

So. That’s why I love EMC! What I’m hoping is that someone from Dell or HP is reading this – so in a few weeks I can say how much I love them! :-)  My problem is I have 4xHP DL 385 G1s. They don’t have vLockstep/Virtualization Hardware Assist – and therefore I can’t do any VMware Fault Tolerence work. I’ve just got of the phone from Richard Garsthagen (here’s VMware’s Senior Evangelist for EMEA by the way). The VMware guys down in Frimely, UK are gonna help me out with remote access to some of their kit so I can write that chapter (I LOVE VMWARE TOO!). BUT, it would be SOOOOOOOOO nice to have that in my own rack on another “long term” lease. HINT HINT. :-)

Below is me with my camcorder – its a 30 second video of 42 rack down at the colocation with the bright and shiny EMC boxes down at the bottom!

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